Budget to impact Indi
The Federal Government delivered several election promises to the electorate of Indi last week but provided no direct funding to Benalla.
Announced on Tuesday night, the 2014-15 federal budget will run at a $49.9 billion deficit, but includes major cuts to welfare and health to help reduce the deficit during the next three years.
Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan said the budget delivered on several election promises for the electorate, but other chan- ges would have a significant impact on constituents.
‘‘I’m really pleased that Indi’s not going to be punished . . . that definitely didn’t happen,’’ Ms McGowan said.
‘‘It’s the first budget. I’m hoping that if this is the toughest budget there’ll be more relief in the next two.’’
The independent said she was pleased to see $1.84 million committed to the Indigo Shire Roads program, $5 million for the Albury Wodonga Health Cardiac Laboratory and $50 000 for the CCTV mobile camera for Myrtleford — all projects promised by former Liberal Member for Indi Sophie Mirabella.
Ms McGowan said the budget covered several of her own election campaign promises, including $100 million for mobile blackspots and mental health services and support, however no further funding was allocated to the National Broadband Network or high speed rail.
Furthermore, she said she was worried about the impact the budget would have on the health and education sectors in regional areas.
‘‘I am concerned about the impact that $7 patient contributions for GP visits will have on the health system and already stretched public hospital system,’’ she said.
‘‘The stats say that already in Indi against national average we’ve got 10 per cent less bulk billing than in the whole of Australia and 20 per cent less than the cities.
‘‘Very few people in Indi have access to bulk billing so they’re already paying a lot to go to the doctor.
‘‘People on fixed incomes will choose to go to emergency services in hospitals and this will put enormous pressures on our already highly stretched hospital system.’’
Much of the cuts to health and hospital funding will be reinvested into a medical research future fund, to reach its target of $20 billion in 2020.
Ms McGowan said she would undertake an intensive process of community consultation to seek feedback about the budget.
‘‘I want to know from people around Benalla, is the pain worth the gain and will the budget do the job?’’ Ms McGowan said.
The independent will travel around the electorate in the coming week to host listening posts for community feedback about the budget. Ms McGowan will be in Benalla, outside Mitchell Health Care, Bridge St, from 10.30 am to noon on Saturday, May 24 before the debate starts in parliament on Monday, May 26.
For more information, or to provide feedback, phone Cathy McGowan’s office on 5721 7077 or visit www.cathymcgowan.com.au
Open ears: Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan is seeking community feedback about last week’s federal budget.